An ion conducting membrane has a matrix including an ordered array of hollow channels and a nanocrystalline electrolyte contained within at least some or all of the channels. The channels have opposed open ends, and a channel width of 1000 nanometers or less, preferably 60 nanometers or less, and most preferably 10 nanometers or less. The channels may be aligned perpendicular to the matrix surface, and the length of the channels may be 10 nanometers to 1000 micrometers. The electrolyte has grain sizes of 100 nanometers or less, and preferably grain sizes of 1 to 50 nanometers. The electrolyte may include grains with a part of the grain boundaries aligned with inner walls of the channels to form a straight oriented grain-wall interface or the electrolyte may be a single crystal. In one form, the electrolyte conducts oxygen ions, the matrix is silica, and the electrolyte is yttrium doped zirconia.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH
This invention was made with Government support under Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 awarded to UT-Battelle, LLC, by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in this invention.